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Student Loans

How to Get Interest-Free Student Loans

Looking for ways to pursue higher education without the added financial stress in your life? There are certain types of student loans that may be able to help you, if you’re eligible.

You’ve decided to jump at the opportunity to continue your education and earn a post-secondary degree. But with current student loan interest rates, how much will higher education cost you? In this article, you’ll learn which student loans may help you pursue your goals without inheriting a long-term headache.

Can you get interest-free student loans?

Traditionally, your hefty monthly payment is mostly eaten up by interest. Even federal student loans, with lower interest rates than private loans, are costly. 

Consider this example showing how much you could save by not paying interest on a student loan.

Federal student loanInterest-free loan
Amount borrowed$20,000$20,000
Interest rate5.05%0%
Monthly payment (over 10 years)$213$167
Total repayment$25,514$25,000

While not widely available, small and large interest-free student loans exist.

Regional governments, financial aid offices, and private and philanthropic organizations offer interest-free student loans to make higher education more accessible and affordable. 

Benefits they receive include enhanced public image and reputation, attracting and retaining talent, and creating more diversity.

Do federal student loans without interest exist?

In short, there are no interest-free federal student loans. 

Subsidized federal student loans prevent interest from accruing during certain periods. Once this period ends, interest resumes.

Where to find no-interest student loans

Check out some interest-free student loans below. With these, you only pay back what you originally borrowed. 

Interest-free loanApplications accepted
Abe and Annie Seibel FoundationJan. 1 – Feb. 28
Bill Raskob FoundationJan. 1 – May 15
Central ScholarshipVaries
Evalee C. Schwarz Charitable Trust for EducationJan. 1 – Apr. 10
Leo S. Rowe Pan American FundYear round
Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) Scholarship FundNov. 1 – Mar. 1
Massachusetts No-Interest Loan ProgramVaries
The Scholarship Foundation of St. LouisJan. 1 – Apr. 15
International Association of Jewish Free LoansVaries

Abe and Annie Seibel Foundation

Who’s eligible

Texas high school graduates who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents enrolled full-time at accredited Texas institutions.

How it works

To apply, call 409-770-5665 and ask to get on the mailing list. Visit the website for more information.

What else to know

Funds are limited, so applying as early as possible is recommended.

Key information
ProgramTexas college/university accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Additional requirementsHigh school: top 10% of graduating class or minimum 1100 SAT or 23 ACT

College: Maintain 3.0 GPA & full-time enrollment
Application deadlineFebruary 28
RenewableUp to 4 years
Repayment termsMinimum $35/month while enrolled

Minimum $50/month beginning after graduation

Full repayment within 6 years

Bill Raskob Foundation

Who’s eligible

U.S. citizens enrolled at accredited U.S. institutions for the upcoming school year. 

How it works

The application package for the Bill Raskob Foundation (BRF) loan includes academic and financial information. BRF provides a checklist of additional information needed. 

By August, applicants are informed whether they will receive the loan. 

What else to know

Applications from U.S. students graduating from a foreign school, for undergraduate first-year study, medical school, or correspondence courses are not accepted. 

Key information
ProgramOne-degree, U.S. programs (combined-degree students, call 410-923-9123 before applying)
Application deadlineMay 15
Repayment termsDetermined by BRF

6-month grace period; 12 months for medical/dental/veterinary students

Central Scholarship

Who’s eligible

U.S. citizens or permanent residents living in Maryland with a 2.8 GPA or greater. You must also enroll in an accredited college or university in the upcoming school year.

How it works

There’s no application for this loan. Instead, you must apply for one of the scholarships on the organization’s website.

The loan is awarded based on the information in your scholarship application and unmet needs determined by your Financial Aid Award Letter.

What else to know

Key information
AmountDetermined by Central Scholarship
Additional requirementsCosigner required
Application deadlineVaries
Repayment terms10 years; deferred 1 year after graduation/program withdrawal

Evalee C. Schwarz Charitable Trust for Education

Who’s eligible

High school seniors, undergraduate, and graduate students with exceptional academics and significant financial need are U.S. citizens and attending an institution in their state. 

How it works

Fill out the application, which includes completing the FAFSA and a signed application checklist. 

The committee meets in June to review applications and notifies applicants of their decision via email.

What else to know

Law school students are not eligible to apply. 

Contact the Charitable Trust for Education at [email protected] for loan repayment terms. 

Key information
Amount$5,000 – $15,000 per year; $60,000 maximum total
Additional requirementsDemonstrated outstanding academic achievement (high standardized test scores & class ranking)
Application deadlineApril 10
Repayment termsDetermined by committee

Leo S. Rowe Pan American Fund

Who’s eligible

Through the Organization of American States (OAS), this fund was designed for Latin American and Caribbean students with student academic or exchange visitor visas who are in their last two years of undergraduate or graduate studies at a U.S. university.

Students must attend full-time, have a 3.0 GPA, and have other sources of funding, such as employment or savings.

Applicants also need a non-spousal guarantor who is a U.S. citizen/permanent resident or a person/entity accepted by the committee.

How it works

The online application includes submitting proof of other sources of funds and recent transcripts.

Applications are reviewed by the committee upon submission. Within five weeks, the secretariat will notify applicants of the decision.

What else to know

Loans are offered only to Latin American and Caribbean OAS-member countries. 

Key information
AmountUp to $15,000
Additional requirementsReturn to native country within time limit allowed by U.S. for optional practical training, if granted, and within 1 year of program completion
Application deadline5th day each month
Repayment termsDetermined by OAS

Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) Scholarship Fund

Who’s eligible

First-time undergraduate degree students with an MOAA-eligible parent or who serves/served in the military. Parents must maintain paid membership through program duration (unless active/retired military)

You must have at least a 3.0 GPA and be under 24 (if you served in the military, you’re allowed up to five years for each year served). 

How it works

The online application takes 15 to 20 minutes once you create your account. It includes your academic and extracurricular information, and your parent’s military background. 

Loan decisions are based on academics, extracurricular activities, and financial need. If approved, you will receive half the funds in August and half in December of each year.

What else to know

Contact the MOAA Scholarship Fund team at [email protected] for repayment term details.

Key information
AmountDetermined by MOAA
Application deadlineMarch 1
Additional requirementsMaintain 2.0 GPA & good academic standing to remain eligible for loan renewal
RenewableUp to 5 years of full-time undergraduate study; required annually by March 1
Repayment termsDetermined by MOAA

Massachusetts No-Interest Loan Program

Who’s eligible

The Massachusetts No Interest Loan (NIL) program is offered to state residents who seek their first undergraduate degree, enroll full-time, and demonstrate financial need.

Your institution signs a participation agreement with the Department of Higher Education Office of Student Financial Assistance to enact this loan. You must be a Massachusetts resident for more than a year as of the start of enrollment and maintain satisfactory academic progress.

How it works

Complete the FAFSA and then contact your financial aid office for additional requirements and deadlines.

If approved, you must sign a promissory note agreeing to the loan terms and conditions before funds can be disbursed.

What else to know

Contact the Department of Higher Education’s (DHE) Office of Student Financial Assistance at 617-391-6070 for more information about the application process.

Key information
AmountUp to $4,000 per year; $20,000 maximum
ProgramMassachusetts certificate, associate, or bachelor’s program
Additional requirements
No federal/state student loan defaults; cannot owe refund for previous financial aid received
Application deadlineVaries
Repayment termsUp to 10 years

The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis

Who’s eligible

High school graduates with at least a 2.0 GPA or GED living in the St. Louis metro region seeking their first post-secondary degree. 

How it works

You must visit the MyScholarshipCentral online application system, sign up for an account, and create a general application. After the general application is completed, additional questions and documentation will be required. 

Loans are determined based on your academic potential, character, and financial need. If approved, your loan will be disbursed to you in the summer.

What else to know

Some funds are available for graduate degrees if the foundation for an undergraduate degree funded you.

Key information
AmountUp to $11,000
ProgramAccredited, nonprofit institution; technical, associate’s, bachelor’s degrees; any field of study, except ministry
Additional requirements≥ 2 years permanent residency in eligible program service area or graduate from eligible high school
Application deadlineApril 15
Repayment termsBegins 1 year after graduation; immediate repayment if enrolled in ≤ 6 credit hours or failure to complete program

International Association of Jewish Free Loans

Who’s eligible

The International Association of Jewish Free Loans (IAJFL) offers various types of interest-free loans funded by agencies across many states and regions, such as the Hebrew Free Loan Association of Boston, Miami, Greater Washington, etc. 

Generally speaking, you must be Jewish, work for a Jewish organization, or marry someone Jewish and have a guarantor.

How it works

Find your local agency at the IAJFL website to find an interest-free student loan. 

Other interest-free financing to explore

Although we’ve detailed some well-known interest-free student loans, this list is not all-inclusive. You may discover others through:

  • High school counselors
  • College financial aid offices
  • Local chambers of commerce
  • Rotary clubs
  • Local nonprofits
  • State education departments
  • Fraternities/sororities
  • Religious organizations

If you’re employed, check with the human resources department. Some employers offer tuition assistance or reimbursement programs to help employees pursue further education. 

Interest-free student loans are few and far between but worth the search. Carefully read through the loan terms for any loan before you accept funds.